Financial and human resources, but also skills and legal empowerment – according to experts from Digital Poland and local government officials, Polish cities and municipalities lack the widespread implementation of cloud technologies and cybersecurity. It was addressed during the discussion organized during the 7th European Congress of Local Governments in Mikołajki, which was attended by representatives of the digital industry and mayors of cities.
During the debate, the subject of the relatively low level of use of cloud computing technology by Polish local governments was raised, despite its potential, e.g. to simplify their work. Marzena Świeczak, the mayor of Garwolin, highlighted the fundamental barriers to cloud development in local government. – Often, insufficient financial resources mean that when it comes to choosing between investing in infrastructure or digitization, the latter usually loses out. This is also, to a certain extent, due to the expectations of citizens – explained the mayor. – In addition to money, the local government needs IT specialists, for which it is difficult to compete with the private sector. All this must have a solid basis in a regulation that will allow us to store and process data on servers outside of offices – Added Marzena Świeczak.
Skills were also mentioned among the factors influencing the degree of implementation of cloud solutions. According to Dariusz Matczak representing Amazon Web Services, a provider of cloud solutions for business and administration, local governments should be provided with the appropriate qualifications. – I would like every local administration in Poland to have at least one person trained in the use of the cloud platform. We try to develop these skills in citizens, incl. providing them with a free education platform and cloud education program for universities – said Dariusz Matczak, also highlighting the possibilities that the cloud offers local governments. – Cloud includes backing up data outside of local government infrastructure, or access to technologies that would not be affordable to local governments, e.g. machine learning, artificial intelligence – Amazon Web Services representative explained.
Local communities want to be safe
Meeting participants agreed on the importance of cybersecurity and the risk arising from the growing scale of digital threats. Adrian Łuckiewicz, Mayor of Wasilków, stressed that the perception of spending in this area needs to change. – The safety of our residents is of paramount importance from a local government perspective, so spending on cyber protection should actually be treated as a significant investment, not an unpleasant obligation. After all, digitization in a broad sense brings convenience to citizens, time savings and increased efficiency in the work of civil servants. – said Mayor Wasilków.
Also in the area of digital security, the need to develop the awareness and skills of officials and citizens was highlighted. Jacek Łęgiewicz, Business Manager at Samsung Electronics Polska, spoke about the need to match knowledge to the tasks performed. – Awareness is key to building cybersecurity, but it shouldn’t be superficial. The skill level should match the tasks of each individual user. It is also necessary to think of safety in terms of the responsibility of the user and the responsibility of the producer. – Jacek Łęgiewicz said.
The interest in digital security among local administrations was confirmed by Łucja Barbaszewska, sales manager of Cisco Systems Poland. – There is evidence that office IT service specialists, who are often extremely task-laden, want to update their knowledge and acquire skills in the area of cybersecurity incident monitoring, prevention and response. – says Lucja Barbaszewska. – That’s a good signal, because two years ago NASK reported that about half of local government websites nationwide were vulnerable to digital attacks. – she added.
Deputy Marek Zagórski, Minister of Digitization in the years 2018-2020, who participated in the debate, in turn stressed that for the popularization of the cloud and the development of cybersecurity, a mental transformation of officials and citizens is also necessary. – During the pandemic, local governments wanted to implement digital solutions. The expectations of offices and citizens are growing. Although the transformation is progressing, as indicated by the growing number of e-services or the number of Poles using the trust profile, for a real revolution to take place in the office, digital solutions should be the tool by failure of local communities. We need to move away from the primacy of paper as the starting tool and work on digital by default – Marek Zagórski summarized.